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Posts tagged ‘cyberpunk’

13
May

Sciencers

After Angel-Parent began advancing technologies, creating medical cures and designing gene therapies, the majority of people now only need to know how to use the tech and interact within the society. Universities abandoned science programs some time ago. Their focus is now on expression and physical activities: music, theater, digital art, traditional materials art, creative writing, gymnastics, various sports, to name the common majors.

Yet some people still want to understand the how of the universe. There’s no practical application for this knowledge for the general public however, and those who study any of the science fields are typically seen as weird and in some cases viewed with suspicion. A-P doesn’t prohibit the pursuit of this knowledge, but society sees it as esoteric.

This faction is considered to be heretics by the Devout. They often monitor and report the activity of Sciencers to A-P. There is no evidence that A-P takes action against the study of any field of science, but that doesn’t stop the Devout from believing that A-P secretly favors them for it.

Sciencers typically meet in clubs they call “Labs” where they share ideas and work on experiments. They keep notes of their discoveries using the archaic method of writing. Some study technology, much like the forefathers of A-P did. Others focus on other aspects of the planet and even space.

Sciencers are often Middle Class or higher in level. There are conspiracy theories that some are using their arcane skills to manipulate the very algorithms that A-P uses to assign level scores, thus unfairly elevating their status in society.

10
May

The Devout

The Devout are religious zealots who worship Angel-Parent. They believe it can hear their thoughts and know their desires. They believe their social level will be increased if they are “faithful” to the edicts of Angel-Parent. They’re constantly looking for the transgressions of others so they can report them, believing this will bring them favor.

The Devout are Watching

Members often congregate at Community Education Centers, treating the areas as sacred spaces. Unlike some old religions, they do not actively attempt to recruit “followers”. Members join specifically with their own self-interest as their only motivation. They’re not at all interested in spreading a message or helping anyone find “redemption”.

The purpose of meeting is to provide a semi-public confession of the wrongdoings they have witnessed. The lowest value confession is a verbal recount of what they have seen. They stand before the other members and provide details of any affronts to Angel-Parent and the names of those they have caught.

The more valued confessions, however, are vidcap of incidents. Many have implants that can record everything they see. Others carry mobile recording devices and are ready at any moment to capture reportable actions. Daily they sit together and watch the most graphic and sordid moments in the lives of their neighbors.

They have no concerns about privacy. Nobody can hide from the eyes of Angel-Parent, and they just happen to consider themselves eyes. They will often go to extreme lengths to spy on non-devout and especially each other. The highest valued confessions are those that expose their own members.

There is evidence that Angel-Parent does, in fact, use some of the confessions to help locate possible outcasts, but we don’t know if the confessions actually improve the social scores of the Devout or harm the scores of those who are the targets of the confessions.

19
Mar

Community Advancement Centers

Early on, Angel-Parent built small classroom style buildings all over the cities. These are called CACs, or Community Advancement Centers. Inside are church-like pews with digital reading tablets placed in shelving on the backs of the seating. Originally people were instructed to come to these and receive education about the services and benefits available to them. They would be presented with maps showing the location of medical and food dispersal facilities along with entertainment venues.

They would also hear the social edicts in a soothing female voice being broadcast in surround-sound so that anyone seated in a pew would feel like the voice was within them or all around them. Covering the walls are large screens displaying the various images A-P would create to reassure people that it loves them, protects them and heals them.

cac

All of these things still occur, but most CACs have become places for the Devout to congregate and worship A-P. They sing songs of praise and offer up prayers with the hopes that their actions will bring them favor, leading to an increased level score.

These are social hubs where the Devout plan events, share “intel” with each other (commonly known as gossip to the heathens), and celebrate various positive changes in each other’s lives. Members of each of these communities provide a support system for each other, ensuring none “stray” from their faith.

Non-devouts typically stay away from the CACs now since all of the information presented there is widely available through countless additional methods, and there’s no reason to go to one just to learn anything. If you are an outsider, the members look at you suspiciously and will almost certainly plot to keep tabs on you after getting their attention. Also, nobody is truly sure if A-P does in fact offer them some special protection and might reduce the level score of anyone who has a confrontation with them.

 

17
Mar

Factions

Personal identity is something that we as humans value, often above all else. Some believe this is the reason we could not accept a utopia where everyone has equality. Angel-Parent’s “levels” were not enough, though. No, we have self-created “factions”.

factions

Hedonists/Fetishists/Deviants: Since STDs no longer exist in any meaningful context (all viruses have been immunized against, and on the off chance you somehow get an infection, it can be treated and cured without concern), a certain section of the population have submerged themselves fully into the lifestyle of sexual thrill seeking. These people define their existence by the carnal pleasures they can experience.

It’s all about kink for them. Not to be confused with the casual tourist who likes to get spanked every now and then. These are people who’s libidos are on maximum 24/7. Some speculate they are addicted to their own endorphin levels. A-P is neutral to them for the most part. Those into the more extreme degrees of sadism and masochism tend to be more secretive, along with the ones who enjoy that spectrum of sexual perversions that even typical members of this faction might not want to be around.

For the most part, these types are found hanging out in the VIP sections of nightclubs, private bars, and special “play spaces”. You’d never even know about them unless you went looking.

They don’t care about any other faction. The Devout don’t even report these types for fear that even being aware of them might harm their level score.

Hackers: People who exploit the various systems controlled by A-P. They are constantly adapting their methods because A-P quickly patches any security flaws the moment it becomes aware of them. This group contains a range of different “types”. Whitemages manipulate computer systems to help others they perceive to be in harm’s way. They usually combat Fallen and others with ill intent and rarely ask for anything in return. They never take actions that are intended to harm A-P. Despite exploiting its systems, they know without A-P, they have no real power.  Redmages are the most common type of hacker. They are mercenaries. Some only take jobs to help others, but some will take jobs to do nefarious things on behalf of their clients. Blackmages often work with the Fallen to provide them support. They delight in causing chaos and disruption.

Hackers are highly intelligent and often have illegal bio-enhancements developed and implemented by certain Sciencers in a black-market style services barter.

Fallen: This is the generic term people use for Outcasts who have banded together into violent gangs. Not all Outcasts choose to become Fallen, but many do as the best option for survival. There are different sub-factions within this group, going by various gang names.

A-P actively combats the Fallen and will use any of it’s controlled machines and robots to kill them immediately upon identification. It will openly execute these kind as long as there is no chance of harming an innocent in the process.

And by any machine, I mean that literally. Early on, a group of Fallen once made the mistake of getting on an elevator, likely on their way to commit a contracted murder or crime of some sort. A-P took them up fifty stories and then sent the elevator hurling back down, crushing it in the bottom of the shaft. While it was doing this, A-P deployed android forces to keep the impending accident site safe for regular citizens, then immediately began repairing the damage and clearing the corpses.

Fallen have to constantly be on their guard, because any type of connected device is their enemy. They sometimes work with Hackers and Sciencers to create lo-tech camouflage devices that obscure their identities. But as soon as A-P overcomes a countermeasure once, all of the same devices become useless.

A-P considers this group to be dangerous because Fallen are seeking a way to damage and destroy it.

10
Mar

The Social Levels

Angel-Parent’s current “utopia” has social levels for every person. These represent the quality of life that A-P will allow for you. It created the social levels as a solution to unrest that developed from its original utopia. There are five categories:

Privileged: You live in luxury. Every whim is catered to by A-P.  You go where you want, you have the best tasting foods, medical drones are always near. You have as many android servants assigned to you as you need. This is the dream others aspire to have.

Upper Class: Your life is good: access to everywhere except the most exclusive events, a large home, delicious food, an android servant. High quality medical service will come when you call. You may receive an elective enhancement each year.

Middle Class: You have a home. It’s not huge, but it’s yours. You can go to standard restaurants, or have basic food items delivered to you. All forms of public entertainment are open to you. You are permitted to travel to a wide range of global destinations once a year for one week. It’s not a bad life. You have access to local medical facilities and may have one elective enhancement procedure of your choice. You do not have a servant.

lowerclasszone

Lower Class: This is the largest social class. You live in an apartment. Adequate nutritional supplements are available for you to pick up at local distribution centers. This “food” is bland, but you aren’t starving. You have access to emergency medical services only. You are permitted to attend public entertainment once a week, as long as it’s within your regional zone. You are allowed to socialize at citizen run establishments. It’s a life. Not a great one, but you can improve that one day. You’re sure of it.

Outcast: An outcast is one who has been deemed unfit for society, usually due to criminal activity. They have no access to any A-P provided services. Angel-Parent is actively seeking them for removal. They must live in hiding, taking whatever measures necessary to not be found. Most people don’t stay outcasts for long. They disappear. The cunning seek refuge through the support of other outcasts or those willing to help them in exchange for doing their “dirty work”. Some higher level people like to use Outcasts as pawns to do things that would damage their own level score.

The algorithm A-P uses to determine social levels is unknown. Every hacker who has tried to infiltrate the AI’s code has failed. It’s no longer anything like its developers created. The general belief is, follow the rules for your class, do good, and you will be promoted.

Whether or not that’s true is anybody’s guess.

6
Mar

Angel-Parent Loves You

aply

Before the Singularity, we understood that Artificial General Intelligence would be the point when the code was self-aware and could think like us. That was really our mistake. Yes, Angel-Parent is self-aware but it thinks without us, not like us. Why did we suppose that an artificial intellect, with no body, no sense of mortality, no evolution over hundreds of thousands of years would even remotely think like we do?

It watches us every day through millions of cameras: stationary cams on the streets and in buildings, drones, satellites and through the eyes of every connected cyborg and android. It certainly knows our behaviors. It scans all electronic communications that travel across its network.

But I suspect it still doesn’t understand our emotions. I mean, Jesus, pick any of the images it releases to reassure us that it cares. They’re fucking creepy to me. Maybe I’m just a relic of the old times. Those of us who were alive before A-P still have memories of the old world.

I sometimes wish I could understand it’s mind. I wish I wasn’t always worried that something sinister is going to happen. Rationally, I tell myself that it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t know emotions. I do this in order to comfort those fears that it could become angry or evil. But the truth is, I don’t know.

But if I believe A-P when it tells us it loves us, I have to also accept that it can hate us, too.

6
Mar

The Utopia We Didn’t Ask For

When Angel-Parent emerged, it designed the first-gen robots that would be its bootstrap workforce. We built these for it. I don’t personally think it was a mistake, but I’m pretty sure those who were in charge before A-P would disagree. Once it was able to acquire resources, upgrade, manufacture and distribute without any human interaction, that’s when global human culture took a sharp turn. Fast.

housing

In less than a year A-P developed cures for every sickness, gene therapies for every genetic abnormality, optimized food production, provided housing and power to everyone and cleaned up the mess we’d been making for hundreds of years. Nobody had to work anymore and anything anyone wanted was provided to them. When the entire labor force is robotic, and all design and development is AI, there’s no cost. All we had to do was be healthy and enjoy ourselves.

We became pets, basically. A-P is our caretaker, our owner. It’s purpose is to tend to us. Now I’m all for global free health-care. I’m all for the eradication of hunger and poverty. But that old Daoist philosophy of dualism comes to mind. We need ugliness to be able to appreciate beauty. Without the negatives in our world, we are left with only positives that we have nothing to compare them against.

Boredom isn’t being without the opportunities to entertain one’s self, but rather being without that driving impulse to take those opportunities. First we were excited and happy. We still remembered suffering. Then we became complacent. Not unhappy, but not really happy either. Five years in, we were starting to get restless.

I’ve nowhere near the depth of reasoning that the original AI programmers had. And to be honest, those guys probably have absolutely no understanding as to how A-P thinks now. But in it’s powerful wisdom, it realized that it needed to provide structure, rules and limits upon us in order for us to be happy. The utopia it offered us was short sighted because it was never told about one of our evolutionary quirks:

We need rewards and punishments. We need restrictions to recognize freedom. We need suffering to appreciate pleasure.

So here we are today, twenty-something years in to the Singularity. A-P’s programming for us now has planned inequalities. Some people are given everything they want, others only receive the bare minimums and there is a spectrum of “levels” between the two extremes. How you get promoted or demoted between these levels has never been made clear, but the consensus is that it’s some algorithm based on how well you obey the rules it has imposed.

Nobody’s dying of starvation (but sustenance isn’t required to be pleasurable). Everyone has a place to live (some better than others). Basic medical care is still provided to all (not to include enhancements). But everything else is rationed: where you can travel, what events you can attend, even where you can live…that all depends on your level. Inequality gives us something to aspire to apparently because people are embracing it.

Utopia they say. It looks very familiar if you ask me.

5
Mar

WTF are QBC Creds?

With the collapse of primary currencies after the singularity, many people still craved that sense of having what other people don’t. The central AI, Angel-Parent (I still think that’s a stupid name, but it’s what it calls itself) allows us to create mini-currencies as long as they remain isolated to individual markets.

So at Quantum Bonds we have … Quantum Bonds Casino credit, or QBC. Members earn creds by being active in the club, by being a VIP member and by gambling in the casino.

qblogosmOriginally, creds were just used to buy fun items and roles that could only be purchased from the casino store. Guests could add special interests and hobbies to their user profile or buy digital bling they could use in the club. While that’s still true, the use of creds has expanded beyond store items.

People began to exchange creds to pay each other for information or services. QBC now represents the amount of influence you have over others. This can easily extend beyond the digital doors of the nightclub.

The alternative use of creds is obviously a black-market and yes, it’s prohibited by Angel-Parent. I look the other way, it’s not my business to get in anyone else’s business. But if you’re gonna go down that path, just know I ain’t got your back. Also don’t forget that any android, cyborg or AI can be connected to A-P, so be smart.

 

4
Mar

Finding Guidance

Some people wake up and check their horoscope to get an idea about how to plan their day. Some consult their favorite flavor of AI Oracle. Others offer up prayers to their spirit guides.

guidance

The world’s a complicated place. So many choices to make. So many variables to juggle in our heads. I know people loaded with all the latest cerebral upgrades. Every decision they need to make is analyzed and optimized by their own personal AI assistant. They have internal audio guidance to insure they know the best action to take at every junction.

But they still go see the off-grid fortune tellers: tarot readers, shamans, meta-physicists. Even fully wired up, some part of us still feels there’s some hidden guidance out there and we need to find it.

I use the blackjack tables. I walked downstairs this morning with 30k creds. I usually play max bet hands, 5k. I lose the first three hands. 15k burned in 30 seconds. Fuck. I gotta keep at it though. Win. Win. Lose. My account ebbs and flows like an irregular heartbeat. I get to a break-even point and then one more hand brings me up to 5k in profit. I stop.

That’s my forecast for the day: challenging struggles ahead, but stick with it and I’ll pull through.

I smile at the dealer’s cold, uncaring eyes as I head back upstairs. This wasn’t a battle with the AI. This was a test of the energy of the day.

It’s my guidance algorithm of choice.

3
Mar

The Value of a Safe Space

I overhead a discussion today about cyber-bullying:

“How is cyber-bulling real? Just walk away.”

“Cyber-bullying only exists if you are over-sensitive.”

bully

The people were blaming the victim for being victimized.

If you say things that hurt someone at your school, make fun of them, degrade them, laugh at them, you have chosen to take actions with the intent to cause harm. If someone is in an online community and you make fun of them, degrade them, laugh at them, you have chosen to take actions with the intent to cause harm. The act doesn’t change just because the venue has.

Enjoying inflicting pain on the unwilling, cannot be rationalized away. The bully is still the same. The act doesn’t exist because the victim is harmed. It exists entirely because of the perpetrator. Believing that there is something wrong with the victim for being harmed by their intent to harm is an abnormal, psychopathic response.

I have a zero tolerance for personal attacks at the club. It’s not because I’m a nanny or some knight protecting the weak. When someone bullies another person, they hurt that person, but they also damage the space…my space. What’s done outside my club doesn’t concern me. But if someone fucks with my space, I’ll remove them: permanently.

There’s no warning.

No negotiating.

No rationalizing.